Quebec government releases list of companies allowed to exceed pollution norms

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Quebec's Environment Department has released a list of eight companies that have the right to exceed provincial norms when it comes to water or air emissions.

The list includes pulp and paper mills, metal and mining companies and the Horne copper smelter in western Quebec, which made headlines earlier this year after it emerged that it was certified to emit 33 times the provincewide standard of arsenic per cubic metre of air.

Environment Minister Benoit Charette announced earlier this month that the Swiss-owned smelter would have to reduce those emissions to five times the provincial norm by 2027, but he had been been facing pressure to unveil the list of all the companies that are allowed to exceed pollution limits.

Officials from the Environment Department say that while the eight companies are allowed to exceed emission norms, not all of them do.

They cite mining giant Rio Tinto Alcan as an example of a company on the list that does not surpass the limits, but officials did not provide a breakdown for the others.

Charette told a radio station earlier this month that 89 companies were allowed to exceed norms, but he later walked that back.

The Environment Department clarified to say those 89 companies are bound by ministerial agreements that set out the environmental conditions under which they operate, but those agreements don't necessarily allow the companies to exceed legal limits.

Besides two Rio Tinto Alcan locations and the Horne smelter, the eight companies that have the right to exceed provincial norms include the WestRock du Canada Corp paper mill in La Tuque, Que.; the Kruger Wayagamack paper mill in Trois-Rivières, Que.; Rayonier Advanced Materials in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Que.; Elkem Métal Canada in Saguenay, Que.; and the Nordic Kraft paper mill in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Que.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2022.

The Canadian Press